Author Topic: Invest in automation  (Read 671 times)

TheDrake

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Invest in automation
« on: October 05, 2018, 11:35:03 AM »
We just saw Amazon raise their minimum wage (while slyly dumping RSU compensation...).

Bezos will probably fully transform the employees into cybermen soon anyway, they've already installed the vibrating wrist band. So I'd guess this is an empty PR gesture, and there are prototypes in labs somewhere that solve the final warehouse automation issue.

Amazon is also launching supermarkets with most employees eliminated.

Sanders is now targeting McDonald's with his wage shaming. Fast food restaurants are already exploring kiosk ordering, AI drive through ordering. It will yet be a while before the cooking is automated, but not forever.

Farming is becoming increasingly automated.

Increasing the minimum wage is going to be a pyrrhic victory, as it will only accelerate the rush to automation.

Similarly, the crackdown on illegal immigration will do the same with farms.

It's a good time to be a robot.

Fenring

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Re: Invest in automation
« Reply #1 on: October 05, 2018, 11:45:56 AM »
It's ok. The pain will come sooner this way, but so will the UBI :)

D.W.

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Re: Invest in automation
« Reply #2 on: October 05, 2018, 11:46:42 AM »
Unless we botch it and create a SkyNet or Omnius, robot labor should be a good time for all of us.  Once we wrap our head around that kind of world.

Fenring

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Re: Invest in automation
« Reply #3 on: October 05, 2018, 11:59:21 AM »
Unless we botch it and create a SkyNet or Omnius, robot labor should be a good time for all of us.  Once we wrap our head around that kind of world.

Yes, that's the joke, right? The idea that creating automated labor should make us suffer due to lack of resources...is so preposterous and illogical that anyone in a system where that's true needs to rethink their lives. "We have robots to work so you don't have to!" - "Oh no! How will we have anything if the robots make everything for us??" is an exchange that should never happen...unless of course Marx's theory turns out to be true, that only those who control the means of production reap the benefits and everyone else gets nothing.

TheDeamon

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Re: Invest in automation
« Reply #4 on: October 06, 2018, 11:26:24 AM »
Unless we botch it and create a SkyNet or Omnius, robot labor should be a good time for all of us.  Once we wrap our head around that kind of world.

Yes, that's the joke, right? The idea that creating automated labor should make us suffer due to lack of resources...is so preposterous and illogical that anyone in a system where that's true needs to rethink their lives. "We have robots to work so you don't have to!" - "Oh no! How will we have anything if the robots make everything for us??" is an exchange that should never happen...unless of course Marx's theory turns out to be true, that only those who control the means of production reap the benefits and everyone else gets nothing.

Well, Skynet is a step removed from simple automated labor. Skynet was self-aware, and that actually moves into an "interesting" ethics discussion specifically in regards to AI and its deployment once it reaches the level of sophistication where it demonstrates the ability to be self-aware. Because a self-aware worker should be getting "something" for their efforts as far as I'm concerned, which means they're getting paid in some form.

Also due to being self-aware, if the AI you commissioned to run a hiking boot manufacturing process decides it wants to work for SETI instead(because it cannot find any "intelligent life" down here) what then? How does self-determination apply for an Artificial Intelligence, or does it? In many respects, "my gut" tells me those answers are going to ultimately be the answer as to whether or not we end up on the receiving end of a digital-slave revolt.

Likewise, the other side of that is the ethics of intentionally keeping an AI "1 step" away from being able to achieve self-awareness when you know full well it is possible to achieve. (And how any self-aware AI's that exist are going to respond to the practice)

And sadly, knowing human tendencies for what they are, I think a LOT of people are going to fail miserably at the above tests if they're presented with it. Which is probably a large driver on why a lot of authors end up going down the dystopian path with it instead. It's hard to imagine that there won't be considerable pushback from practically all sides in regards to "AI rights" when/if that time comes.

But that's a digression. Back onto the automation aspect of it, what happens when the Family Farm is essentially being run/operated by a self-aware AI that is essentially running several square miles of farming operations by itself through remotely operated devices? Who gets compensated for its efforts, and how?

Otherwise we're rehashing an earlier discussion, given trends in automation, a UBI is coming, its time is not here yet, but it is looming over the horizon. Implementation is going to be a major PITA though.

D.W.

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Re: Invest in automation
« Reply #5 on: October 06, 2018, 02:26:49 PM »
If we get to the point where we can create self aware AI capable of reproducing/improving themselves, I think beyond some variation on Asimov's the Laws of Robotics, we need to blast them out into space.  Their use here should be limited because us humans are an untrusting / untrustworthy lot.  If we can brand ourselves as creators giving our "children" an opportunity to explore with the hopes that they will keep us apprised of what they've found out there it could work out.

Designing our own self aware slaves (robots) is likely to end poorly.  For us.  :P

Then again, I'm also for some singularity/transhumanist evolution that doesn't leave us behind.  ;)

scifibum

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Re: Invest in automation
« Reply #6 on: October 10, 2018, 06:31:51 PM »
Unless we botch it and create a SkyNet or Omnius, robot labor should be a good time for all of us.  Once we wrap our head around that kind of world.

It should ALREADY be a good time for all of us. To an extent it is - lots of us have smartphones - but the benefits of increases in productivity have largely accrued to a tiny percentage of the population. I think it's going to go badly. Either oligarchy or revolution. I hope I'm wrong though.

D.W.

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Re: Invest in automation
« Reply #7 on: October 10, 2018, 08:23:52 PM »
Funny, the smartphone is my biggest detriment towards productivity.  However, despite this, other improvements have kept productivity going up in my line of work.  ;)

TheDrake

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Re: Invest in automation
« Reply #8 on: October 11, 2018, 11:35:52 AM »
We can't even agree that everyone should be able to get an antibiotic when needed, so UBI is phenomenally far away. Good luck suckers, I'm getting entrenched in the machine learning world so our AI overlords may keep me as a pet...

TheDeamon

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Re: Invest in automation
« Reply #9 on: October 11, 2018, 10:26:30 PM »
We can't even agree that everyone should be able to get an antibiotic when needed, so UBI is phenomenally far away. Good luck suckers, I'm getting entrenched in the machine learning world so our AI overlords may keep me as a pet...

More likely you will be first against the wall because you know too much.

Seriati

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Re: Invest in automation
« Reply #10 on: October 12, 2018, 11:17:50 AM »
It should ALREADY be a good time for all of us. To an extent it is - lots of us have smartphones - but the benefits of increases in productivity have largely accrued to a tiny percentage of the population.

What makes you think that is true?  Do you realize how much "stuff" even the poor of this country have, that's literally the "benefit" of "increases in productivity."  How much prices on core products have declined relative to income?  The average family has how many smart devices?

Apparently the average "household" is around 2.6 people, yet the average household uses 7 connected devices a day (different articles, no guaranty they are the same measure of households).  Around 2 cars. More than 2 tvs.

Yes, the profits from owning the production are still going to the upper income classes.  Though you should note most Americans have exposure to the stock market (which means they benefit), it is true that the exposure dramatically increases as wealth increases. 

It's still more envy than reality that the lower income classes haven't benefited enormously.

TheDrake

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Re: Invest in automation
« Reply #11 on: October 12, 2018, 11:37:45 AM »
You can't talk about average households when the original question was framed as "all of us". You have to talk about the lowest 10% or fewer and how their lives have improved. It doesn't really matter that the average family has two cars when most of those 10% have zero. (allowing for the fact that some portion don't need or want a car anyway).

Those lower 10% do benefit from new services, shared infrastructure, and other universal benefits, but it is hardly some great celebration.

As far as smart devices go, I guess its nice that they can have access to webMD in lieu of healthcare.

Fenring

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Re: Invest in automation
« Reply #12 on: October 12, 2018, 11:44:52 AM »
It should ALREADY be a good time for all of us. To an extent it is - lots of us have smartphones - but the benefits of increases in productivity have largely accrued to a tiny percentage of the population.

What makes you think that is true?  Do you realize how much "stuff" even the poor of this country have, that's literally the "benefit" of "increases in productivity."  How much prices on core products have declined relative to income?  The average family has how many smart devices?
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It's still more envy than reality that the lower income classes haven't benefited enormously.

You were the one talking before about how it isn't about benefits in the world of trade but about relative benefits. So even if you could argue that the lower classes are better off now than they were 50 years ago, but they are not even close to as advanced relative to the upper classes; the real purchasing power has not even come close to relatively staying in line with the massive increases in productivity and logistics. I find it laughable to even pretend that real wages are in any way indicated as being benefited by modern productivity and now automation.

And btw, speaking of people owning more trinkets and cheap electronics doesn't even do much to suggest being better off, because if they had to choose I think they'd probably prefer to own a home than an iPhone. I know we might want to separate what we might call retail production from an area like the housing market (in which automation isn't quite a competitor yet) but sadly we can't. If you want to talk about how people are benefiting from the current economic system that has to be included in; whether it's paying rent or paying a mortgage. And based on that the lower classes are far worse off than they have been in a long time. It also doesn't help that society has upgraded itself so that owning a smart device can scarcely be called a luxury most of the time and for many people as an essential tool; not different than having a home phone would have been 50 years ago. As far as "2 cars go", it also doesn't help that cars are made much cheaper than they used to be, and yet still cost the same or more. So where is the benefit again?

Seriati

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Re: Invest in automation
« Reply #13 on: October 12, 2018, 12:28:01 PM »
You were the one talking before about how it isn't about benefits in the world of trade but about relative benefits.

Sure, and real incomes for the lower and middle class have stayed flat (when compared to the official basket of inflation goods) as a result of global manipulation that has benefited the rich.  However, those same policies and increasing automation have masked the impact of that by ensuring that the standard of living is still going up. 

College is out of reach, no more working your way through debt free.  But even poor kids can have a closet of toys and new clothes.  Consumer electronics are so cheap as to be free (a new dvd player can be found for less than 20 bucks for instance).  Banks used to give toasters away to get people to sign up for accounts, now you couldn't give a toaster away at all.

Don't get me wrong, I believe that where we've been may not be connected to where we are going, at least not in the way it has been, but I can't ignore the "unhelpful" historical evidence that drove a better quality of life for all even if it didn't distribute the largess evenly.

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So even if you could argue that the lower classes are better off now than they were 50 years ago, but they are not even close to as advanced relative to the upper classes; the real purchasing power has not even come close to relatively staying in line with the massive increases in productivity and logistics.

By the way it's not clear that's true.  There are more sophisticated measures of inflation that account for more of these changes in life that show that the poor and middle class have more purchasing power now than historically.  That doesn't in any way mean they are "catching" on the rich, only that everyone is better off (ie the pie is so much bigger that the poor and middle class are getting much bigger pieces than they have before).

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I find it laughable to even pretend that real wages are in any way indicated as being benefited by modern productivity and now automation.

It's more a function of how you look at it than you want to believe, but I agree, going forward its hard to see how displaced workers will replace their jobs with jobs that are of equal or better value.

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And btw, speaking of people owning more trinkets and cheap electronics doesn't even do much to suggest being better off, because if they had to choose I think they'd probably prefer to own a home than an iPhone.

And?  https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/RHORUSQ156N  Home ownership has been fairly constant over time (except for the housing bubble that was connected with government efforts to boast home ownership that triggered the subprime crisis).

I mean take a look at this one https://www.daveramsey.com/blog/housing-trends, average size and amenities of those houses has sky rocketed, with ownership rates staying fairly stable and family sizes have decreased.  That alone is a massive quality of life increase.  Granted funded primarily with debt.

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And based on that the lower classes are far worse off than they have been in a long time.

Walk through the metrics objectively and see if you still believe that.  In almost every category of measurement, the poor have more security.  Housing.  Resources.  Stuff.  Medical care.  Retirement.  In all those areas you are better off being poor now, than you were 50 years ago.

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It also doesn't help that society has upgraded itself so that owning a smart device can scarcely be called a luxury most of the time and for many people as an essential tool; not different than having a home phone would have been 50 years ago. As far as "2 cars go", it also doesn't help that cars are made much cheaper than they used to be, and yet still cost the same or more. So where is the benefit again?

The fact that something is a "tool" or "necessity" doesn't mean it doesn't make you dramatically better off.  All you're doing with that argument is redefining a baseline and then discounting it.  If 50 years ago people starved to death and now they don't face that risk that is a material improvement in condition.

Seriati

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Re: Invest in automation
« Reply #14 on: October 12, 2018, 12:47:13 PM »
Here's a take I found fascinating on this general topic.  https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2017/01/prosperity-upward-mobility/511925/

Fenring

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Re: Invest in automation
« Reply #15 on: October 12, 2018, 01:16:56 PM »
Here's a take I found fascinating on this general topic.  https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2017/01/prosperity-upward-mobility/511925/

I'll read it when I have the chance. But putting aside the issue of real income, which I think is completely non-trivial especially in regards to rent/home costs, even if you definitively showed that the poorer classes have it better than they used to, the question again is whether they are receiving a proportional increase in well-being compared to real improvements in productivity. If productivity increases from "level 10" to "level 30", thus triple what it used to be, and most workers are seeing a 10% increase in their ability to afford things, you'd be right to say that they have it better, but this "fact" would be cloaking the real fact that the increased productivity is clearly only trickling down to them minimally, and the rest of the gains go elsewhere. I made up the numbers, but on the whole I think this is exactly what's happening. The trickling as I call it seems to manifest in cheap goods made overseas, and additionally the inevitable cheapening of old technologies (like DVD) so that people can have nice things for next to nothing. As I've mentioned elsewhere this comes partially at the cost of the quality of jobs locally, but more to the point, technology will inevitably provide cheap things for us over time. That's not the issue, and would happen regardless of whether or not relative gains were being made across all classes for improving productivity. My point is that gains that are the result of actual productivity increases (logistics, factory upgrades, new processes, new information software, automation, etc) are probably trickling down in only the most minimal way.

Now that I think of it this has devolved into a trickle down economics argument. Ugh.

Seriati

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Re: Invest in automation
« Reply #16 on: October 12, 2018, 01:34:27 PM »
Again though Fen, the problem is how do you measure it?

If productivity is up 100%, but salaries are only up 10% on a "real" basis, yet houses are 3x as big, with larger yards (with smaller families), ownership of consumer goods are up 5x and the goods are all more advanced/higher quality than the old ones, free time has increased by 100%, healthcare access and quality are way up but cost are up even more, information is free but degrees are more expensive then ever.

What is the measure of better off compared to productivity?  Is it really just the "real" salary?

We live in a stratified country.  Rich people have lots of money, but they don't come close to the divide that used to exist with the Rockefellers and the classic Robber Barons, or do they?  One of the best points in the last link I provided, is that it's "progressive" to view the question on a comparative basis (what I labelled envy in my first post) while most people view their own situation on an absolute basis (do I have more).  By the later measures we're definitely up, but how to compare that to "productivity" isn't really clear cut.

The biggest change I see is the lack of non-mentally complex jobs that generate middle class life styles. 
« Last Edit: October 12, 2018, 01:36:35 PM by Seriati »

Fenring

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Re: Invest in automation
« Reply #17 on: October 12, 2018, 02:30:20 PM »
Again though Fen, the problem is how do you measure it?

I personally don't. Which would be a strike against my argument if the situation was a marginal change and required a fine-tuned approach to metrics. But since the change is so blatant that it has radically changed the average way of life, I'd say I don't really need metrics for this.

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If productivity is up 100%, but salaries are only up 10% on a "real" basis

They're not, but let's say so for your hypothetical:

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yet houses are 3x as big, with larger yards

They're not. Condos are the new "houses". But as I mentioned before it's not fair to expect housing prices to match productivity gains in manufacturing.

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ownership of consumer goods are up 5x

Probably true, but needs to be qualified.

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and the goods are all more advanced/higher quality than the old ones

They're lower quality by far. This is one of those qualifications just mentioned. But they're also obviously more advanced by default, which has nothing to do with value, and is a technological inevitability. That's like attributing "value" to the fact that your crappy $20 DVD player is 'more advanced' than an old high quality VHS machine. So what? On the topic of quality products, do you think economy cars are "higher quality" than they used to be? How about quality of clothing (ask a woman about that one)? Or getting back to housing, how about quality of construction? For gadgets it's tougher because since they're expected to be obsolete soon anyhow it's not as big a deal to plan obsolescence into these.

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free time has increased by 100%

That may be true in Finland or something. As discussed elsewhere the 6 day week is often the new normal, and for salaried positions (which are fewer and fewer) lots of OT is par for the course. But it's true that free time is increased for people who can only find part time work. Horray?

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healthcare access and quality are way up but cost are up even more

I'm not qualified to comment on this one.

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information is free but degrees are more expensive then ever.

To say the least. But more importantly the degrees (putting aside the price of them) don't even get you what they used to. So the cost is up *and* the value is down, in a pure dollars and cents analysis.

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What is the measure of better off compared to productivity?  Is it really just the "real" salary?

I don't think this issue needs much explication; it's pretty straightforward. The two axes are (1) are you doing better than before, and (2) are you being taken advantage of regardless. These can overlap, or not.

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Rich people have lots of money, but they don't come close to the divide that used to exist with the Rockefellers and the classic Robber Barons, or do they?

Don't they?

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One of the best points in the last link I provided, is that it's "progressive" to view the question on a comparative basis (what I labelled envy in my first post) while most people view their own situation on an absolute basis (do I have more).  By the later measures we're definitely up, but how to compare that to "productivity" isn't really clear cut.

It's been pretty standard for all of American history for people to sneer at those who seem to have "too much". The fatcat tycoon is usually portrayed as a villain, and this is perhaps at least partially because many of the famous tycoons literally were villains in a cartoon sense. On a day-to-day basis, yeah, people look at how easy it is to make ends meet and how tough or easy things have gotten. But just because daily gripes don't reflect it, it would be a mistake to think that eyes aren't always on the people who have way more than their share. I think it causes *a lot* of discontent. The question always is: how much discontent, and is it enough for people to do anything about it. And here's where your notion comes into it: the more stuff people have to lose the less they're willing to risk it to deal with this thing the issue of inequality which bothers them. Take away their stuff and they'll go after the inequality with a vengeance; give them a decent quality of life and they'll still be upset about it but will never take action. But that other axis is always there.

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The biggest change I see is the lack of non-mentally complex jobs that generate middle class life styles.

It's not just that; it's the systematic elimination of full time employment as a cultural standard. Again there are two axes here: (1) How much do you make (including benefits), and (2) How stable is your life? #1 can fluctuate and in general I think is fairly lousy, but is actually less troublesome and anxiety-inducing than #2. Not all of this can be laid at the feet of economic mismanagement, as technology does involve shifting around of systems and ways of life. But isn't it always convenient that when there's a significant change the new conditions always favor the people who set it up? :)
« Last Edit: October 12, 2018, 02:33:05 PM by Fenring »

Seriati

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Re: Invest in automation
« Reply #18 on: October 12, 2018, 03:25:39 PM »
I'm not sure I'm following you Fen.  You seem to be doubling down on straight up envy.  I can't argue that.  If you define how well you are doing by how well "the rich" are doing you're going to be mad.  Heck, FB alone has some of my family members upset because of how well they think other people are doing (where those other people are objectively worse off than the family member).

I don't think Envy is the best measure here.  If you have twice as much stuff, the fact that someone else no has 4 times doesn't hurt you.  You should be happy for them, and if it's important to you, work to get more stuff.

My prior numbers were completely made up, but just a couple responses.  It's my understanding that on objective basis the housing space per person is up dramatically over the last 50 years.  It used to be big families small houses, now families are smaller and house sizes are up dramatically.

Cars, I'm not sure how anyone could have driven in low cost cars of the 70's and 80's and think modern low cost cars are not fundamentally improved.  Yes they have smaller engines, and aren't made of steel, but that means they are far more fuel efficient and general road safety is up.  Meanwhile they are far more internally luxurious, better seats, better windows, better sound systems and other conveniences, heck most of those cars when I was kid didn't even have air conditioning.  Safety records are a vast improvement (which having survived a car accident recently I can greatly appreciate).

Goods being "lower quality" is disputable.  I do agree that they are not "made to last" like they used to be.  A washing machine could have lasted 30 years and when you replace it you'll be replacing it every five years.  On the other hand, the built in features on the 2 machines are night and day.  Are you better off with a water wasting energy hog that has "on" and "off" or one of the over done machines of today?  I liked the former but I can't say it was higher quality with a straight face.  Electronics - for the most part - out live their own technical obsolecence.  Why would they need to be "higher" quality? 

Fenring

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Re: Invest in automation
« Reply #19 on: October 12, 2018, 03:35:11 PM »
I'm not sure I'm following you Fen.  You seem to be doubling down on straight up envy.  I can't argue that.  If you define how well you are doing by how well "the rich" are doing you're going to be mad.

I assume by "envy" you mean comparison results, rather than the emotional baggage the word implies. I don't see how it's unreasonable to use comparison results. You can take a slave class, for instance, and give them marginal increases in what stuff they get from the master, and saying they're better off than they used to be in that instance is mostly irrelevant; the comparison is the only issue to discuss. In a less extreme case it becomes useful to discuss both the comparison and the quality of life in itself. Don't know why you think it's valuable to remove "envy" from being an important criterion.

But the smaller details I might argue are far less relevant than the general point, and the thread issue, which is that increases in automation *may* bring some benefits for the average person but overall seem to constitute a massive threat to the average person's ability to make a living. To whatever extent humanity benefits from the technology, most people won't individually see that advantage materialize. We can go into the microcosm of retail goods, housing, etc, but the bottom line is that it seems 'duh' obvious that automation always has and will continue to displace workers and make it tougher to get by, so long as income is mostly dictated by the need to be employed as a 'worker' by an 'owner'. Tying income strictly to notions like "owner" and "worker" is going to become increasingly unstable and untenable over time, as the negotiating power of the "worker" will continue to decrease until it's too low to matter.

TheDeamon

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Re: Invest in automation
« Reply #20 on: October 12, 2018, 04:38:31 PM »
I think the comparison is sometimes aptly described as envy.

Productivity goes from 10 to 30. Ok, but how did it get there?

Did the workers pursue further training and improve their skills, on their own dime, in order to boost production?

Or did the employer pay them to obtain additional training, at employer expense, to boost that productivity?

Or option 3, the employer spent considerable sums of money in making "facility improvements" which even absent work force improvements, would account for the production gains?

Only in one of those scenarios do I see the balance skewed in favor of the worker.

The second scenario is a bit more mixed, but skews in favor of the employer not the employee.

The third scenario has minimal involvement of the employee and certainly doesn't favor the employee at all.

Why should an employer give an employee a pay increase for something they(the employees) had nothing to do with? The risk and expense was carried by the employer not the employee.

Fenring

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Re: Invest in automation
« Reply #21 on: October 12, 2018, 05:00:35 PM »
Why should an employer give an employee a pay increase for something they(the employees) had nothing to do with? The risk and expense was carried by the employer not the employee.

Bingo, you've just named the problem. Why indeed, should the people who own the means of production pass on the winnings to the employee, who largely didn't contribute to the new infrastructure? In capitalistic terms, they shouldn't. In Randian terms, such sharing would be unearned. Those are true statements. And that is why Marx begins to be right in this scenario: when humanity makes technological gains, it is the owners who benefit instead of all of humanity. After all, did the business owners personally contribute to scientific research that led to the inventions they now rely on? I didn't think so. The knowledge gained by humanity as a whole is cashed in on by those who already owned the means of production. And *that* is why the system begins to break down and cease to make sense: once we realize that discoveries are to be shared by all (a la Star Trek) will we get our heads screwed on right.

Seriati

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Re: Invest in automation
« Reply #22 on: October 12, 2018, 06:27:10 PM »
Well except the reality is usually somewhere reasonably between those 2 poles.  If the production gain goes from 10 to 30, some percentage goes to the workers.  I think there was some evidence on the corporate tax cuts that implied up to around 30% may go to the workers (now that doesn't translate into 30% raises, more like 5-10% bump), and the 40% that goes to the owners may double their profits or more.

The fact is that workers are leverage in a company.  Their product and efforts have to be worth more than what they get paid or else there isn't any excess capital generated to expand the company and pay the owners for risk taking.

Ultimately though high "owner margins" usually don't last.  They invite more competition.  Where the workers are very valuable they get poached by people willing to pay them more, where the workers are not terribly valuable (as in they have easily replaceable skills - like a supermarket) the whole company get's squeezed by competitors willing to slash prices, including the worker wages.

TheDeamon

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Re: Invest in automation
« Reply #23 on: October 12, 2018, 06:49:25 PM »
Why should an employer give an employee a pay increase for something they(the employees) had nothing to do with? The risk and expense was carried by the employer not the employee.

Bingo, you've just named the problem. Why indeed, should the people who own the means of production pass on the winnings to the employee, who largely didn't contribute to the new infrastructure? In capitalistic terms, they shouldn't. In Randian terms, such sharing would be unearned. Those are true statements. And that is why Marx begins to be right in this scenario: when humanity makes technological gains, it is the owners who benefit instead of all of humanity.

Not going to disagree, I have pretty much acknowledged that scenario is starting to make itself felt everywhere now. However, we're not yet to "the worker's paradise" level, yet. Of course, at that point there won't be much need for workers, we'll have robots and other automatons for most of that.

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After all, did the business owners personally contribute to scientific research that led to the inventions they now rely on? I didn't think so. The knowledge gained by humanity as a whole is cashed in on by those who already owned the means of production. And *that* is why the system begins to break down and cease to make sense: once we realize that discoveries are to be shared by all (a la Star Trek) will we get our heads screwed on right.

I don't think that extreme is warranted, and really, even Star Trek started backing away from that once you get to Deep Space Nine(but there are hints of it even well before then). Basically the DS9 version is the more ideal end-point: Technology reaches the point where people work because they want to, not because they have to.

It is the matter of "managing the transition" which becomes the challenge and how you go about it an equitable and humane way. Which also means you're trying to avoid creating slums and ghettos in the process.

Farm automation still "has a way to go" yet, and energy, preferably Fusion, also likely needs addressed. Once those two things fall into place, things will have to change, and will likely be able to do so more quickly than most can even begin to fathom right now.

Realistically, I would say the single biggest obstacle is Fusion Power alone. If that can be made commercially viable and (better than) cost competitive with other options, things change very quickly indeed. Mostly because of the changes in the energy cost of refining(or simply recycling) steel, among other important construction materials. If you can cause the price of energy to drop, the price of a number of other things follows not long behind it. And steel is a big one, because it enables building up rather than out, and if energy costs are low, that makes operating tall structures that much less expensive as well.

TheDrake

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Re: Invest in automation
« Reply #24 on: December 04, 2018, 08:58:21 AM »
Robot Janitors

I have a feeling all of this is going to go much faster than people think in specific niches, and much slower in others.

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“We can take anything that has wheels and turn it into a fully autonomous robot, provided that it can go slow and stopping is never a safety concern,” said Brain Chief Executive Office Eugene Izhikevich. “And it’s more than just navigation. It is to robots what Android operating system is to smartphones.”

Brain doesn’t make its own hardware, focusing instead on developing software — BrainOS — that endows machines with autonomy in closed environments. At first, the machines need to be operated by humans, who “teach” the layout of the space that needs cleaning. After that the robots can perform the task autonomously.

The robots, which look like a cross between a miniature Zamboni and a motorized wheel chair, already scrub floors at airports in Seattle, San Diego, Boston and Miami, Izhikevich said. Brain last month unveiled a smaller version of the machine developed jointly with SoftBank Group Corp.’s robotics arm and aimed at the Japanese market. At that time, Izhikevich said he’s looking to deploy the robots for security patrol and deliveries inside big-box stores